Empty Property Checklist for Homeowners and Landlords

There are many reasons why a property may lie empty for a while. If the owner is deceased, it can take many months for a property to be sold. Homes can also be vacant between tenancies. Whatever the reason for a property lying vacant, it still needs to be maintained.

Empty property checklist for homeowners and landlords

Safe and Secure
Empty properties needs to be secured. A property is an important asset, so some form of vacant property security is essential. Empty houses and commercial buildings attract vandals and opportunistic types looking for a place to hang out away from prying eyes. Empty homes are also attractive to squatters, who can be difficult to evict if they gain entry and decide to remain in the property.

In the case of a commercial property that is likely to remain empty for a considerable time, it is a good idea to install vacant property alarms, as these will deter most offenders. Other security features worth considering are a camera system and secure perimeter fencing.

Preparing for a Long Vacancy
If you know a property is going to be empty for a while, it is a good idea to take measures to minimize the possibility of damage occurring. Water should be turned off at the stop tap, the central heating system should be switched off, and the water should be drained to avoid burst pipes. Check the windows and doors to make sure they are secure and locked. Check the property for any signs of vermin or other types of pest and call in a pest control company if necessary. Finally, make sure to stop or redirect your post, and seal your letter box.

Empty Property Maintenance
A vacant property still needs to be maintained. If a problem occurs when the property is empty, it could be weeks before you notice. Something simple such as a burst pipe can cause a huge amount of damage if water is left leaking out over a long period.

Ideally, you should check the property regularly to ensure nothing has gone wrong, but at the very least, make sure you have adequate insurance in place. Always inform the insurance company/broker that the property is empty or you could belatedly discover when you need to make a claim that the policy is invalid.

Gardens continue to grow whether a property is inhabited or not. Grass will need to be mown at least once a week during the peak growing season. Weeds will also need to be treated. If you cannot manage any of this yourself, employ a contractor to take care of the everyday garden maintenance. You can also contract them to trim back shrubs and hedges, plus any other seasonal jobs at the appropriate time of year.

Preparing a Property for a New Tenant or Owner
An empty property will need to be carefully transitioned back into occupation. Utilities should be switched back on and the water system and boiler checked for leaks. Gas-safe and electricity safety certificates may need renewing. Locks may need to be changed once the tenant has left and the property should be inspected for damage or vermin infestations.

If you have an empty property, now is a good time to carry out a renovation project.

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